Victim of fatal Paso Robles shooting is identified

newsroom@thetribunenews.comFebruary 7, 2014 

  • Location of shooting

    Here's the approximate location of a home in rural Paso Robles where a person was shot to death early Friday.


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UPDATE 7 p.m.: The shooting victim has been identified as Billy Don Lawson, 47, of rural Paso Robles, the Coroner's Unit of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said. An autopsy is scheduled for next week.

Original story: One person is dead, another injured and a 23-year-old man is being held in San Luis Obispo County Jail accused of murder after an early morning shooting at a home in rural Paso Robles on Friday.

John Steven Danner of Paso Robles was arrested on suspicion of a single count of murder. As of Friday evening, Danner was being held without bail.

Investigators believe Danner acted alone, and the case is being considered an isolated incident. Officials have not named the victim, pending notification to the next of kin.

On Friday morning, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office deputies, forensic investigators and state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers were on the scene at the remote single-story residence, awaiting the return of a search warrant in order to enter the home.

A single SUV was parked around the back of the house near an outbuilding, and decorative outdoor items cluttered the yard.

A body lay at the front doorway.

Authorities said they were notified of the incident at about 3 a.m., when the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a physician at a local emergency room reporting that a person was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries from at least one gunshot.

The patient was treated and released by noon. Officials have not disclosed the identity of the person or the hospital.

Based on the information from the hospital, deputies arrived at the house in the 700 block of Klau Mine Road, about 15 miles west of Highway 101, where they discovered the victim and multiple ammunition casings.

Sheriff’s detectives called Fish and Wildlife officers after they learned there were rattlesnakes in terrariums in the home.

"For our officers' safety, we're having them removed," Detective Cmdr. Ron Hastie said.

The snakes were taken from the home, but because it is not illegal to keep rattlesnakes, they will likely be returned.

Hastie said the investigation remains in its early stages, but it is believed that three people lived in the house. Hastie said it was not immediately known if Danner was one of the residents.

Hastie said the Sheriff’s Office forensic investigators spent Friday examining the scene and will remain there through at least Saturday, when another forensic team from the Department of Justice’s Goleta office will arrive to assist in the investigation.

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